The FX network premiered its new comedy ‘Wilfred’ starring Elijah Wood last week. After the first episode, about the only thing I can say for certain about the show is that it’s weird. Really, really weird.
The show is based on an Australian dark comedy series of the same name. If you saw any of the ads for it, you pretty much already know the basic premise and plot of the pilot episode (called ‘Happiness’). Wood plays a man named Ryan who, as we meet him, is in the process of drafting the perfect suicide note and overdosing on anti-anxiety pills prescribed to him by his sister, a ragingly uptight OB/GYN. Ryan is a lawyer and is supposed to start work at his sister’s hospital, but has decided to kill himself instead.
The problem is that the pills don’t seem to do the job. After a long night of waiting around for death, Ryan’s suicidal fugue is interrupted by his hot-chick neighbor, who asks him to look after her dog Wilfred for the day. When Ryan looks at Wilfred, he sees a man in a dog costume. Everyone else sees Wilfred as a real dog. Ryan believes that the pills have made him hallucinate, until learning later that his sister only gave him sugar pills as a placebo. Is he nuts, or is this really happening to him?
That’s the gist of it. Wilfred talks to Ryan. At times, he’s eloquent and wise, and offers sage advice about living life how he wants to. Yet at other times, he does strange dog-like things such as obsessively digging a hole in Ryan’s yard (with a shovel, ‘natch) and wanting to play fetch. He’s also a stoner and something of a perv. In the pilot episode, he talks Ryan into breaking into the house of the neighborhood’s obnoxious biker and drug dealer to steal his pot stash.
The comedy is pretty dark, and seems a good fit for the network that gives us ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’. The first episode isn’t so much hilarious, though, as it is weirdly compelling. It has potential. I’ll definitely stick around to see how this develops.